Reconciliation and Reflections –reflection-tree

There’s seldom time for reflecting – real hard inner and outer reflecting. At least for me it seems so –

But today is providing a space as I am mostly at home today. Much to do – have completed wrapping Christmas presents for my 3 friends who I’m meeting at a restaurant this evening for our Christmas dinner. We meet throughout the year when it is one of our birthdays. And for Christmas – it’s been going on for I don’t know how long. 15 years? Always for me, such a special time, spent so well – interludes throughout the year when we share each other with each other, and exchange gifts –

Wrapping presents, not a fast task for me. Choosing the paper from beautiful wrapping paper that I’ve kept for just such occasions – recycling at the same time – remembering sometimes where that lovely paper came from, a present to me wrapped in it, and from whom. And now for my three women friends, items carefully chosen by me, lovingly –

Still to complete a present to each of them – a pretty little notebook. I started on this a day or so ago, writing in a quote or 3, many from Susan Schwartz’s and my book ‘Aging & Becoming ~ A Reflective Enquiry’. *

One such quote is from Simone Weil : Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity ~

I’ve wrapped presents for the girls at the rooms – we have our Christmas lunch next week Thursday at a fancy restaurant. The rooms will close down that day after my husband has attended to his patients in the morning. The next day, 16th December, is a public holiday, the Day of Reconciliation* in South Africa held annually on16 December since the end of apartheid in 1994.

Reconcile – a pretty powerful word.

                    From The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary On Historical Principles Vol 2:-                                      Reconcile  1.1. trans. To bring (a person) again into friendly relations to or with (oneself or another) after an estrangement.

There was much else also, under Reconciliation and Reconciliatory – quite easy for me to get diverted and indulge in origins and historical quotations of it and what it meant from times past. And to wonder about reconciliation in the current times in which we are living. Not just here in South Africa, but world-wide. I especially like that the definition includes ‘…friendly relations ... with (oneself …) after an estrangement.

It’s almost too big for me to think and reflect about – it almost takes me down the rabbit hole – but somehow I do think of the urgency of reconciliation, within and without. Within, as in our own selves, re-conciling all that needs re-conciling. Giving and paying attention, the rarest and purest form of generosity. Paying attention to that which has been neglected, and needs attention. Doing our own inner work hard though that be. Finding the treasure within, though the road be rocky. Not littering, or wasting water, being kind and considerate, standing in protest and solidarity with deserving causes  e.g. Standing Rock about the DAPL – The Dakota Pipe Line, not buying groceries and food stuffs that contain palm oil (hard one that one, you really have to look), or other items whose origins may be dubious (e.g. sweat shops or suspicious ingredients). Buying locally supporting smaller businesses. I love to know that I’m making a protest in my own small way. I’m all for lawful civil disobedience –

Being a little more thoughtful in word and deed, a little more considerate, a little more loving, a little more aware – these are my tasks. Perhaps also to myself – bringing the micro into the macro with a tiny grain of consciousness, knowing always that the shadow is not far behind. Hoping and praying that reconciliation on a macro level is actually possible –

My husband & I spent 5 days down in Plettenberg Bay recently. We thought we’d get a tiny bit organised before we go there for the festive season around the 19th or so. Well, we did a bit, the pantry has some tins of tuna, three bean salad and beetroot salad and some things in the freezer.

On the evening before we flew down, I cut these roses from my garden with the intention of taking them down to Plett. I photographed them also and they spent a night on the dining room table. Wate-rly wrapped the next day, the only item in my small back pack to go on the plane to place in our Plett home. I gave them to Pat who works at the rooms who gave us a lift to the Gautrain (our speed train that gets us speedily to the airport) –


My husband found this butterfly wing in our driveway at our Plett home. I still have it in a notebook somewhere.


On the Keurbooms beach there was this strange something – we suspect the skin of a jellyfish? There were quite a few swimming in the sea – it was rather lovely –


I love this image – it comes from The Spectator, many copies of which I have offloaded from my friend Lyndy. The image is used for Diary. Various columnists contribute to it.

May all be well –  thank you for reading. Another quote from our book –             

Indira Gandhi: You must learn to be still in the midst of activity and to be vibrantly alive in repose 

*our book: ‘Aging & Becoming ~ A Reflective Enquiry’ in process. Soon to be published I hope.


38 comments on “Reconciliation and Reflections –”

  1. I am even later than Hilary on this comment. But, I’m here, finally. All of this I agree with. I think the Indira Gandhi quote says it all. I must be mindful to reflect on that during my days’ activities. Christmas cheer to you. And, I love the photo of the tree — just beautiful, and all the photos — a sensitive look at life and our world.

  2. Hi Susan – I am very late … life is a struggle at the moment – but all will be well. Well I take my positive spirit with me … though tiredness pervades due to circumstances not of my making or of my control.

    To notice and be conscious, to be aware, to think and to think of others, paying attention, thinking forward beyond the now – creating a more positive and generous life ahead …

    Just to be at peace and offer others the same, regardless of the situation (particularly in the light of today’s ghastly goings on), to laugh and give a little more time, … life is too short …

    But sorry this is so late – and I think today you’re on your way to Plett … take care and have a very happy time down there … Cheers Hilary

    • Hi Hilary, lovely to see you here thank you for coming by. I’m sorry about your tiredness – may you find the time to nurture yourself.

      You’re right, we motored down from Johannesburg in the very early morning today and arrived in Plett around 6.00 p.m., 2 hours ago. It’s so lovely to be here. My sweet daughter-in-law is now putting supper on the table outside on the balcony. ONE DAY I hope you will be here for several days –

      Be at peace dear Hilary – your attitude will get you everywhere. Susan xx

  3. Wow Susan !! what a reflective post 🙂 I loved the first image of the post, speaks so much and captured my heart and the words chosen, reconciliation and reflection – both to me are words that carry so much power, and its relevant and timely for me not only to reflect about myself both within and out but also to be reconciled … I have already begun the process .. taken baby steps to live reconciled and do my part in contributing to greater wholeness of peace and harmony. Christmas is such a wonderful time and its the time to share and and I have made a small list to appreciate and thank all those close to my heart; and this time specially all those service providers who were so much part of my life, the driver who took me regularly to both clinic and work; the helper who comes regularly and a few close friends who are so much part of my life…. your post reinforced gratitude and I am glad to connect with you. Lovely images you posted and thank you for sharing !!

    • Thank you so much Genevive! I love how you say ‘.. and do my part in contributing to greater wholeness of peace and harmony’. I am grateful to you for saying this so clearly. It also reminds me that it is necessary that we each do this to the best of our ability.

      May your healing continue as you go about your day and way – am sending you love and all best wishes from South Africa to you … xx

  4. I look forward to your book, Susan, and hope I’ll be able to get it in a printed form–and if not I’ll have to figure out how to deal with e-books which I’ve resisted because I like a book in my hand and I like writing in the margins. I’m patient. I loved imagining the gifts you’re wrapping with carefully chosen paper. I’m using either recycled or white this year and holding gifts together with ribbon and no tape so the paper can be used again. My dining room table is a gift-wrapping and mail center at the moment since I need to get gifts mailed on Monday for people who are far away.

    My yearly fund-raising for a women’s group in Nepal went well this year. I think there is a desperate need to do something. I pray for outer reconciliation. Maybe it will happen. Maybe there will be miracles, but at the moment, I find healing energy with people who are on “my side” in this divided country. I pray we can do better, but the new government seems interested in anything except reconciliation.

    Thank you for interesting and colorful images. The first one is a knock-out. My world is snow white, gray, and dark evergreen. The days must be long and warm there.

    • I love the idea you present with your dining table being used as gift wrapping and mailing centre Elaine! I use ribbon often as well. Using white paper and bright ribbon makes a pretty picture.

      How great that your fund raising for women in Nepal went well!

      Our days are long – and getting longer as the solstice approaches. Hot and sunny punctuated sometimes by much needed rain. The days will be even longer when we get down to the sea for Christmas.

      Our book WILL be available as a paper back! Using create space to make it so, but golly, creating an account is a devil of a thing.

      Thank you so much for coming by Elaine, I so appreciate this.

  5. Three of the most precious gifts that a person can possess are the ability to be still and listen to his or her inner voice. To be able to notice the unnoticeable and to be the first to reach out the hand of reconciliation even when he or she is not the party who inflicted the pain. They are gifts that cannot be purchased at any department store.

    You have written an excellent article my dear friend.

    Wishing you the very best for this Christmas season.

    Shalom aleichem,

    • What a lovely comment Pat about these 3 precious gifts. Thank you – and thank you for the compliment about this post. I really appreciate this.

      All best wishes for a happy, blessed, peaceful and safe Christmas to you and family.

      Shalom, Susan

  6. Such a truly lovely post, Susan. Thank you! I hope you had a wonderful time with your friends. I love the attention you pay to the wrapping–and the being in the moment with it. I plan to wrap a bunch of gifts today, too. I am not a good wrapper–the paper is always jagged and not folded correctly, and I imagine the cats are going to “help” me. 🙂 But I hope my friends and family know I care, even if the wrapping doesn’t reflect it.

    I remember when S. Africa was having the Truth and Reconciliation tribunal. I didn’t know the day was celebrated on December 16. Marian is right that our country needs to be reconciled. Unfortunately, I can’t see it happening until at least four years have passed. I’m hoping we still have a country by then.

    • Thanks so much Merril! Last night was lovely thank you – my girlfriends like all the little things wrapped up – it’s like a lucky packet one of them said. And you’re right, it is a time for me to be in the moment! I snapped a pair of scissors in the middle of it all and had to get new ones from down the road. A tip maybe – tissue paper different colours, with a pretty ribbon and pop into a gift bag? I sometimes do that –

      Yes I’m also wondering about our country still functioning – it gets worse as each day passes. But this morning when I was out and about in my car I heard Albie Sachs a retired judge and an activist in times past, on the radio. At the end that slot, he reminded us of all that has happened in our country and how much has actually been done and achieved. Now, coming home from work, I heard about protests planned for Monday where people will take to the streets and wrest control from white dominated businesses …

      Have a lovely weekend – 🙂

  7. Thanks for the lovely post, Susan. You are lucky to have your reflections and lovely time with your friends. Keep enjoying the Season! Merry Christmas, and Big Hugs.

    • Thank you dear Gwynn for coming by. I reckon the rushed-ness of the season has barely begun or I haven’t noticed it. Have you? Hope all is well with you 🙂

      • I’m ignoring the Season with hopes that it will quickly go away. Christmas Eve is the anniversary of my having to call 911 for my husband, so it is depressing me. Plus, I’m afraid of facing having to have my hips replaced. I’m afraid of the surgery. Plus, since John can’t drive, I have to find someone to help us. OH GROAN!!!! I’m having a hard time staying “Merry!”

        • I remember this Gwynn. Not happy memories at all .. and the idea of hip replacement and John not much able to assist you, also not being able to drive, is a scary thought. This is a real conflict you’re in – not exactly merry at all. I hope that friends close by can assist if needed Gwynn … a hug from me to you over the airwaves …

  8. So true about attention being a form of generosity. That’s one of the things I hate most about smartphones, and why I still refuse to get one–hardly anyone pays attention to each other anymore. The phone is a near-constant interruption, which makes me sad.

    The news about #NoDAPL was a bright light in an otherwise devastating year for many, but it seems the fight isn’t over yet. We need all forms of activism, all voices.

    Much love to you, Susan. I hope you enjoy your Christmas celebrations and have a wonderful New Year. And I hope to meet you in person! South Africa has long been on my bucket list. Hopefully soon I will make it there.

    • Even when people are gathered together at a coffee shop or restaurant, they’re just about all on their smartphones, checking this and that. Are they unable to be with others?

      I reckon activism will continue world-wide. May #NoDAPL be the shining light and an inspiration to us all. South Africa has the highest level of protests in the world, many pretty violent e.g. burning of schools, buses, artworks.

      But on a brighter and happier note – do come Holli! Give me fair notice, I can help you plot and plan and it would a pleasure to host you and show you around our beautiful country! Love to you too and may your Christmas and festive season be blessed indeed!

  9. “Being a little more thoughtful in word and deed, a little more considerate, a little more loving, a little more aware – these are my tasks” and mine, also. 🙂

  10. I enjoyed reading about your care in choosing gifts and wrappings for your friends. Before we moved, I was part of a three-some who exchanged little gifts before Christmas. It was very special to all of us.

  11. Reconciliation is indeed a powerful word and action, Susan. Tremendous post once again. Always a pleasure to read. I hope you enjoy your friends and they you. A special time of year for us all to reflect and reconcile.

    • Thanks Silvia for coming by and for your lovely comment It was a lovely evening – I’m just back now. We didn’t talk about Reconciliation – I didn’t mention that I’d put up a post. Yet in a way reflections on this past year came up – also how fast it’s gone 🙂

    • That’s so lovely to hear Jacqui – thank you. Oosh, are you already thinking about the A-Z? I’ll definitely support you – you have much to offer!

  12. “Finding the treasure within, though the road be rocky.”

    I’m certainly finding that to be true for me now, here in the USA after this election. I’ve gotten away from just sitting and reflecting on the good around me, and must make it a point to go back to my spiritual ways. ‘Tis time for me to follow Simone Weil’s advice and give myself the gift of attention. Thanks for reminding me of this.

    • Thanks Ally Bean for your comment … so much for the US to digest and for us all to find ways of making our worlds better for others and ourselves. Going inwards to find our own spirit/soul is a very fine way.As above, so below –

  13. What an interesting bit of synchronicity today. I just finished wrapping a special gift to our granddaughter Jenna. Yesterday I found the perfect silvery paper with snowmen and topped it with a large silvery bow. You see the gift is a big box of china dolls we stored away when our daughter became a teenager. During the move, we found the dolls all nestled in bubble wrap, so I am acknowledged the gift as coming from her mom (our daughter) via Grandpa and Nana, me. Wrapping gifts is a big part of the pleasure of giving for me.

    By the way, I think the USA needs a Day of Reconciliation . . . and soon!

    Thank you for the timely post and the “gathering” of pictures too, Susan.

    • What a lovely story Marian about unexpectedly finding the box of China dolls to pass on! All those generations of daughters the beneficiaries! I agree, wrapping the presents is part of the pleasure!

      South Africa had the Truth & Reconciliation Commission some years ago. A very tricky process. Initiated by our then Archbishop Desmond Tutu. It went a way towards forgiveness –

      Thanks you so much for coming by.

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